Saudi Arabia’s World Cup winners hailed as ‘an inspiration’ by top sports chief
LONDON: Saudi Arabian footballers have been hailed ‘an inspiration’ after being crowned world champions for the fourth time after lifting the trophy at INAS World Football Championships for athletes with intellectual disabilities in Sweden.
The tournament held every four years, saw Saudi Arabia sweep competition aside to emerge victorious against Argentina 2-0 in the final on Saturday.
Turki Al-Sheikh, Chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA) of Saudi Arabia, said: “We are so proud of the team’s achievement, they are an inspiration for all in Saudi Arabia of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work. There is no challenge that cannot be overcome.
“To win for a fourth time is an incredible achievement and we congratulate the players, the coaching staff and all who have supported them on their journey, both family members and officials.”
To participate in the INAS World Football Championships, an athlete must have an intellectual disability that was evident before the age of 18, significant limitations in adaptive behavior, and an IQ score below 75.
During the final, reported INAS, the reigning champions produced “a dominant and controlled performance to retain their crown at the Tingvalla IP in Karlstad.
“Abdullah Al Dosari inspired Saudi Arabia with two goals, the first a superb free-kick to give his side the lead after just 10 minutes.
“Al Dosari then doubled their advantage 14 minutes later and it was a deficit Argentina were unable to recover from.”
The win continued more than a decade of success, retaining Saudi Arabia the crown they first won in 2006 in Germany when they beat the Dutch. They repeated that success against the same rival in 2010 in South Africa and completed their hattrick in Brazil in 2014 beating the South Africans.
Dr. Heidi Alaskary, Managing Director for Diversity & Inclusion and Partnerships at the General Sports Authority (GSA), said: “At the heart of the GSA’s mission we believe in creating an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive. This victory shows this is true for anyone in the community.
“Their spirit inspires us to continue our work to make sport accessible and enjoyable for all, whether they be at the grass roots level or world champions.”